A cloud of dust flies upward as Nontutuko Shebi strikes at the bedrock of the “Marikana” quarry‚ her hand clutching her hammer as each blow joins the clinking chorus of tools against rock that echoes all around her.
Her nine-month-old daughter Okuhle – bound closely to her mother with a blanket – is unperturbed by each strike.
Shebi has come to the shale quarry set in the hills of rural southern KwaZulu-Natal hoping that “gold” locked in the hillside may change the destiny of her youngest child‚ otherwise bound for a life of poverty.
The mother of four‚ who lives in KwaMachi‚ like hundreds of others‚ believes that gold has been found and‚ with it‚ wealth and prosperity is close at hand.
KwaMachi resident Thulani Ncayiyane‚ 28‚ said that roadworkers had first made the discovery last week.
They had‚ he said‚ used the shale to surface rural roads and stumbled on the “gold”.
“There were trucks working then. They wer